The Duke’s Weekend Preview

There have already been some Classic pointers this week (Eminent being the most interesting) and we’ll find out more at Newbury.

Let’s start off with the 1.55 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes. The betting comes down to whether you think Midterm is worth taking on or not. Sir Michael Stoute has started the season pretty well and Midterm has always been a long-term project so I wouldn’t be surprised if he won, but there’s some each-way value in Second Step, for a number of reasons. I’ll list them. He goes well first time up every season. He has switched yards from Luca Cumani to Roger Charlton who has begun his campaign strongly. He will appreciate the ground. And he is two from two at Newbury. At double figure odds he might not be the worst shout for an each-way bet.

The 2.30 fillies’ race is a nasty one from a betting perspective. It may come down to Dabyah and Queen Kindly, but personally, I would avoid the race like the plague. Those betting at short odds could come unstuck by Rain Goddess for the ever-shrewd Aidan O’Brien, while Urban Fox is probably overpriced for a horse who has placed in a Group 1.

For me, the Greenham Stakes at 3.05 is a learning exercise. We’ll find out which of this year’s Classic generation deserves a crack at the 2000 Guineas.

Barney Roy, Dream Castle, War Secretary and Zainhom are all relatively short, but are probably the four candidates. Thinking outside of the box, I imagine War Secretary has been targeted at this race. The others will have aspirations for the 2000 Guineas, but connections of War Secretary have better horses to aim at the Classics. War Front progeny tend to be better as two-year-olds than at three, but Aidan O’Brien will have had a number of options to send to this race and I’m willing to chance it.

It’s one of those funny times of year when big meetings on the Flat and Jumps clash and switching tracks to Ayr for the Scottish Grand National isn’t an easy way for terrestrial television punters to round off their Saturday, but two stand off the page for me.

Emma Lavelle is in fabulous form and she has ducked some other big meetings with Shotgun Paddy. He’s placed in a Welsh National before and his form at Warwick behind One For Arthur in the Betfred Classic Chase is really intriguing.

The winner has obviously gone on to land the Grand National at Aintree, but while One For Arthur was put up 11lbs ahead of Aintree for that Warwick victory, Shotgun Paddy has actually dropped 2lbs (plus he was giving One For Arthur 2lbs in the handicap at Warwick). If a first time visor works then he could be dangerously well in.

The other I’ll mention is Premier Bond, for Nicky Henderson. He has potential as a lightly-raced horse and he placed at Cheltenham Festival in the Amateur’s race. A step-up in trip could see improvement and I’m willing to throw a few quid in his direction too.

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